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LA GOP lawmakers close to breaking on big govt

Louisiana’s GOP legislators as a whole continue to bend towards the breaking point in their special session called to retain oversized government.

Having a week ago defeated by the narrowest of margins a measure to remove deductibility of a good chunk of federal excess itemized deductions from state income taxes, the same House Ways and Means Committee forwarded by the narrowest margin a somewhat-similar bill yesterday. These differ in that the newest version, HB 38 by state Rep. Malinda White, after changes specifies full coverage of mortgage interest and charitable deductions, makes the lack of deductibility last only 24 months, and potentially could revere the increase if enough revenue in the $125 million range each year came from other sources and thereby would allow those filers otherwise limited by the bill to carry forward and claim the entire deduction at least two tax years down the road.

Both Chairman Democrat Neil Abramson and Vice Chairman Republican Jim Morris switched votes from the previous occasion, having formulated the compromise version from the original that began basically identical with the predecessor measure. GOP State Rep. Julie Stokes, always on the hunt to grow government as a price for her conception of tax simplification, switched from an affirmative vote on last week’s efforts because of the temporary nature of the tax.


Hypersensitive Edwards squeals at every poke

Stuck pigs squeal. And often, when you have one as thin-skinned as Louisiana’s Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards.

One might think that having spent his collegiate years at West Point and then several more as a commissioned Army officer would toughen you up. Then again, persons who lack self-introspection in military service can become too comfortable with barking out orders met by absolute obedience, so if others question and even criticize your dictates, arrogant lashing out at them occurs.

Edwards’ tendencies on this account compound because he knows a majority of Louisiana’s center-right electorate disagrees with him on a majority of issues, so his visceral reactions to criticism of his policy serve as attempts to deflect from the complaints’ merits that hit home. No critique from elected officials escapes him and he will respond with disdain and vitriol.


Futile ploy shows LA House gains upper hand

If that’s the best Louisiana Senate leaders and Gov. John Bel Edwards can do, then clearly the Louisiana House of Representatives leadership is winning the battle of wills over the size of government, irrespective of the hypocrisy involved.

Yesterday, Senate leaders had a hissy fit over the House’s reluctance to pass through anything but small tax increases needed to fuel Edwards’ desired size of Louisiana government, that the governor claims requires $450 million more in hikes. With Edwards already having grabbed as hostages the sick and college students, by saying previously he would close the shortfall by shuttering hospitals and slashing tuition reimbursements rather than make small cuts to many much lower priority functions, Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee chairman state Sen. JP Morrell corralled some Girl Scouts, scholastic sports boosters, and many more by announcing he would not move on HB 51 by state Rep. Jim Morris to remove sales tax on items sold by them until the House coughed up more bills increasing more taxes. In the waning moments of the first special session of the year, Act 25, alleged inadvertently by many legislators, taxed these items and many others that now Morris’ bill seeks to undo.

Of course Morrell, undoubtedly with the blessing of Edwards and Sen. Pres. John Alario, in doing so employs the same sitzkrieg strategy as did state Rep. Neil Abramson, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, concerning the state’s capital outlay bill at the conclusion of the regular session – a move roundly criticized by the likes of Edwards, Alario, and Morrell. The irony and hypocrisy of Morrell’s move at present seems to escape him.


Capital outlay reform demise hurtful to public

Well, that didn’t last long – capital budgeting reform from Gov. John Bel Edwards or legislative independence on that issue. More interesting is why and the consequences.

After a semi-comical interlude that found a delayed capital outlay budget head towards approval, the resolution of that dispute demonstrates nothing has changed in a process that over-promises and under-delivers. The resulting product for next fiscal year still shares with all of its predecessors oversubscription of projects that surrenders power to the governor.

Typically, legislators lard up this budget with much more spending than the state’s debt capacity will allow. This they do to create the impression to constituents back home that they bring home sufficient amounts of bacon. Even if they know possibly a decade will pass before it receives any money – and may never as the list changes annually or circumstances may moot the need – having a project out there with an attached dollar figure becomes a prop to wave in front of voters come election day.